Poetry by John Grochalski

the movie ticket cashier has a window

into the deepest fears resting in my soul

 

the movie ticket cashier

sells me a senior citizen ticket

at the age of forty-four

 

this chipper grim reaper

senses the stench of death on me

 

and all it’s worth to him

 

is his cheap smile

and a six-dollar discount.

 

the bather

 

he flushes the toilet

in the public men’s room

more than a dozen times

 

he’s usually in there

a good forty minutes

 

there is generally a line by then

 

an angry-faced mob of men

checking their watches

and doing their pee-pee dance

 

when he finally comes out

his long hair is slicked back

and the beard is gleaming

 

a layer of new york city dirt

is gone from his chapped face

 

the crowd parts for him like the red sea

 

they let him walk back out

into the glare of the sun and the street

 

before turning back to each other

like red-faced idiots

 

with no clue

who was supposed

to get to use the restroom next.

 

the bottle collectors

 

the bottle collectors

are outside my window

riffling through the garbage

 

as i sit in this chair with a hangover

 

they rattle their treasures unmercifully

they’re loud enough to wake the dead

 

i think of all of the years of drinking

 

all of the bottles and cans that i emptied

and threw away like they were nothing

 

hangovers that have become

a goldmine for someone else

 

then i fart loudly into the void

 

and stumble off

to get my broke ass

ready for work.

 

from near the verrazzano-narrows bridge,

jogging, a complaint about the weather, etc.

 

i’m still doing this, why?

dragging myself out of the door at seven in the morning

 

to face the calamity of cars

and high school students

and parents and wailing babies

 

smiling, waxen fellow joggers who feel compelled to wave

 

and dogs who’d rip me apart like captured carrion

should i stumble before their wooly, jagged muzzles

 

what should i think?

that vanity must be the last refuge of a scoundrel

 

i feel scandalous

in an ill-fitting t-shirt

my booze belly hanging over ill-fitting shorts

sweat pouring off of me

 

sore knees and sore shoulder

dying unnaturally in the unnatural heat of april

 

for that matter

where has the spring gone?

 

it comes for a week now

spreads its allergic seeds

and then the summer chases it out of the house

as if it were a philandering prick

 

even the tulips bend under the burden of the sun

 

and the verrazzano-narrows bridge

looks molten in the blood-red haze

 

like it too wants

to give up the game

collapse into the cold belly of the atlantic ocean

 

and drift away as if a dried leaf

leftover from an autumn

that last winter was unable to swallow.

 

thinking about mt. washington (pittsburgh)

 

been a long time

since i thought about cruising mt. washington

 

young, blurry nights behind the wheel

with calvin and steve and colby

 

reckless with cheap beer and cigarettes

and the immortality of a fool

 

as pittsburgh glowed below us

spent from our revelry on humid summer nights

 

chasing women with stale inuendo

 

then going home alone to porn magazines

drunken, horny lotharios with nothing to show for it

but sore wrists and tissue paper

 

before passing out

 

then hours later

leaning over a toilet bowl

convulsing with the morning’s vomitous hangover

 

memory’s cheap regret

and the body’s rancor making us shiver

 

yet planning on calling all of the fellows later

to trade war stories over the evening’s first pint

 

and do it all again.

 

I am a published writer whose poetry has appeared your journal as well as in several online and print publications including:  Red Fez, Rusty Truck, Outsider Writers Collective, Underground Voices, The Lilliput Review, The Main Street Rag, Zygote In My Coffee, The Camel Saloon, and Bartleby Snopes.  I am the author four books of poetry The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch (Six Gallery Press, 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Press, 2014), and The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018).  I am also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press, 2013) and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press, 2016).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *